Warrington prepares £9m Birchwood transport package

Warrington Council is lining up funding in order to start three road infrastructure projects in the key Birchwood business area in June.

The council’s executive board has been asked to rubber stamp LEP funding and public borrowing in order to trigger the scheme.

Balfour Beatty completed the first phase of works in the Warrington East project on time and to budget, leading to Warrington declaring its intention to again procure through the Scape Civils and Infrastructure Framework. Balfours is the sole provider on the framework, and all works are openly tendered to agreed sub-contractors with fixed fee uplifts.

The report ahead of the council’s executive meeting seeks approval to access £6.9m from the Local Growth Fund and £2m from Enterprise Zone funding.

The LGF funding has already been ring-fenced following a bid to Cheshire & Warrington LEP in late 2016, and can be drawn down from this month. The £2m contribution will initially be covered by prudential borrowing, to be repaid by the Enterprise Zone at a later date.

The original funding plan was for the council to pay £3.9m to the project and developer contributions to account for a further £500,000.

However, since the project’s reworking and moving of part of it to phase three, the revised project is estimated at £10.7m. It is requested that £2.65m is reallocated to phase three, while the council’s contribution is now reduced to £3.1m, which has been approved. The developer contribution is now £400,000.

The desired projects are the introduction of traffic lights at the roundabout on the A574 Birchwood Way; the provision of a dedicated westbound slip road at the Oakwood Gate ‘dog bone’ roundabout; and a widened westbound carriageway at the Blackbrook Junction of Birchwood Way.

The provision of a bus-only linkage between Gig Lane and Woolston Grange employment area has been removed from the proposals, along with the extension of the merge lane on Birchwood Way east of the Moss Gate junction, with the latter project being moved to phase three of the Warrington East plan.

The business case made in the report claims that the improvements will support the development of 150 homes in east Warrington, and the creation of 1.700 jobs, with a benefit-to-cost ratio of £3.43 for every pound spent.

If approved, the proposed schemes will proceed to detailed design, following amendments made following consultation and testing of a transport model developed by Mott Macdonald.

Phase one, known as the “Birchwood Pinchpoint” project, covered works at Oakwood Gate, Moss Gate and a bus-only link road easing access between north and south Birchwood.

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